When Sydney Parrish was making her college decision while at Hamilton Southeastern High School, the University of Oregon was a national title contender in women’s basketball. Indiana University was not.
Parrish, however, said she still considered IU because she had known Hoosiers’ coach Teri Moren and her staff since middle school.
“But in all honesty, at that point in my life I was looking for a program that was a (top) winning program, and IU wasn’t at that time,” Parrish said. “But a credit to the staff and players that have come through the program. They’ve made a dynasty, and that’s what attracted me the second time. I know now it’s because of all the work the staff and the girls put in that separates us from the other teams in the country.”
After two seasons at Oregon, the 2020 Indiana Miss Basketball transferred to IU before this season and has helped the Hoosiers earn a program-high No. 2 ranking Feb. 6. The 6-foot-2 junior guard is second in scoring (13.0 points per game) and rebounding (5.9 rpg) for IU, which was 22-1 and 12-1 in the Big Ten prior to the Feb. 9 scheduled game with Iowa.
Oregon made the Elite Eight in 2017 and 2018 and the Final Four in 2019. The Ducks made the Sweet 16 in 2021 and lost in the opening round in 2022.
Parrish averaged 8.5 points in 32 games as a sophomore and 6.0 points in 23 games as a freshman. Parrish just felt it was time for a fresh start and chose to come home.
“My confidence on the floor has definitely improved from my freshman and sophomore year,” said Parrish, who led Hamilton Southeastern to an IHSAA Class 4A state championship in 2019. “I think it starts with our coaching staff and trusting our preparation going into each game and the workouts we do in the off-season and the way we practice.”
Moren loves Parrish’s competitiveness.
“She’s a passionate basketball player who has brought so much to us,” Moren said. “We watched Syd grow up and recruited (her) very hard. The thing I’ve been most impressed with Syd is every time you come into a new culture, you kind of have to find your way. Syd is social and she has a big voice and has a lot to say in a good kind of way. Syd would pick and choose (her spots). She knew (teammates) Grace Berger was the leader and she knew Mackenzie Holmes is really good. She knew a lot of these players had been in our system. She has led from the side, which is great.”
Parrish said coming into a program where relationships are already established isn’t easy, but her teammates and coaching staff made it super easy.
“We all want to play for each other and win for each other, which is huge for us coming down the stretch with huge games to wrap up Big Ten play,” she said.
As the only player from the state on the Hoosiers’ roster, Parrish took her role seriously in her first game in the Purdue rivalry.
“I had to step up and be the person to show who the best team in Indiana is,” said Parrish, who scored 15 points Feb. 5 in IU’s 69-46 victory over host Purdue.
For the Hoosiers to stay one of the top teams nationally, staying healthy will be key.
“Just taking care of our bodies is the biggest thing right now and not looking too far ahead in the season,” she said.
Parrish is focused on doing the little things.
“I’m trying to be that spark on the court,” she said. “I’m trying to be the voice on the court at all times, telling people where to go and communicate on the defensive end.”
Parrish’s father, Shawn Parrish, played basketball at Ball State University, her and mother, Aimee (Forsman) Parrish, played at Valparaiso University. Shawn was an assistant coach at Northwestern University for several seasons.
“My dad has been coaching for a long time and has helped me be the player I am today,” Parrish said. “Playing in the backyard with my mom and dad has helped my growth in the game and my basketball IQ.”
Meet Sydney Parrish
- Person: Averaged 24.8 points and 8.0 rebounds as a Hamilton Southeastern High School senior.
- Favorite athlete: Sister Lauryn Parrish, who swam collegiately for the University of Kansas. “I always looked up to her growing up and her work ethic,” Parrish said. “Swimmers are literally in the pool twice a day for hours, putting so much stress on their bodies.”
- What she does to relax: Plays with her dog, a mini goldendoodle.
- How she motivates herself before games: “I listen to music but I’m a high-energy person, so I like talking to a lot of people. Just having fun.”
- Favorite movie: “The Blind Side.”
- Favorite musician: Justin Bieber.